It isn't that the soil is infertile, far from it. It just seems impervious to water. I tried to salvage the plants that had gamely struggled up out of the soil and discovered that only three inches down, the soil was bone dry. How could this be? If a torrential downpour had failed to penetrate the soil, my hours of sprinkling had clearly been of no use whatsoever. So I decided to dig everything over again only this time I would mix in tonnes of fine wood shavings. Now was the time to do it, it was pissing down. Mixing in the shavings and giving the soil a good turning over would definitely moisten and loosen it all up ready for me to have another go at planting. If the rains hold up, then the seed would be in with a good chance.
God knows what possessed me to take up gardening. I had done all the digging I wanted to while in the Army. Civilians have fond memories of walks through the Brecon Beacons. I have nightmares about the place. Besides, I know bugger all about gardening and was always far to impatient a person to even consider it as a pastime. Might as well watch planks warp. I can now say, though, that I am a keen, if very inept gardener. I may have been very slow starting (I'll be fifty five in May) but I am slowly getting the hang of it. I know my efforts will bear fruit.
'I need to pee, Andi,' Marcia told me as she passed by heading for the house. She always calls me Andi, don't know why. I don't call her Frank (her second name is Francelina) but I do call her Mars One Alpha occasionally. I don't know why I do that either. I also found it momentarily confusing that Marcia should appear to ask me before using the loo, she's always managed on her own so far.
'Did you buy the test kit?' I asked.
'Shouldn't the test be conducted in the morning, first pee and all that?' I asked.
'I am going to do it now,' she told me.
'Wait, wait!' I called after her tossing the shovel and wiping the dirt from my hands on my shorts. 'I want to see!'
'You are not watching me pee,' she told me as I hurried after her.
'How long does it take?'
'One minute,' she said closing the door.
Gosh, I thought, that's quick. About the same time as it took me to get her pregnant. If she was pregnant.
A little while later she came out and handed me a little white stick with a coloured band on it. Towards the end was a line with an arrow pointing at it. Only one line. I knew enough to realise that two lines were a positive indication. So I sat there holding it waiting for the second line to appear. Nothing.
'Can you see?' asked Marcia. Actually, I could not see very well, my specs being smeared with mud, rain and honest sweat so I asked her to polish them for me. Still only one line. Further up the stick was a red band. It was next to this that Marcia indicated with a delicate fingernail. Two purplish lines.
'So you are pregnant!'
'Yes, Darling, I know. I have known since last week.' Blimey, no wonder she was teasing me with all those vague references to pregnancy, she was sounding me out! Thank God there are some things I just don't joke about. Goodness, in fifteen years I will have had three children. Nine years between the first two, Dominic and Alex, now five years between the next two. I am picking up the pace!
I gave Marcia a hug and a kiss and told her what a clever girl she was. Men say dopey things like that, don't they? But I suspect that's just what newly expectant mothers like to hear,
'Oi, Alex!' I called out, 'You are going to get a brother or a sister!'
'I already have a brother,' he said matter of factly, eyes glued on the TV.
'Well, you're going to get another one, Mummy is going to have a baby!'
At that moment, a bat flew into the house so he lost all interest in anything else. So did I, to tell you the truth; together we tracked it until it settled on the hot water tank.
'Bats are nice,' I told Alex as I snapped a photo, 'they catch insects, especially mosquitoes in mid flight.'
'Wow,' he said, clearly impressed, 'can we catch it and keep it so I can show my new brother?'
See, he was paying attention.
'You had better ask your mother,' I told him. And he did, and his mother was very pleased. Then she told me to get rid of the bat.
|There's lines all over the bloody thing!|
|A bat on a hot tin pipe|